By Philip Balepo
The growing quest of demand by female children for share of property of parents who died without a Will is tearing many families apart as male and female children of such parents are on each other’s throats.
Presently in Onitsha,two females Nnenna Nwoche and Obiamaka Nwoche,all adults and yet to marry,have dragged their brother of thesame father and mother Ezennia Louis Nwoche to the Onitsha Traditional Court,presided over by the Obi in Council,requesting that their brother (Ezennia)divide and give them share of their late father’s residence situated at No 8 Achukwu lane,off Awka Road,Onitsha.
Their late father,Akunwafor Dom Nwoche who died without a Will was a renowned civil servant of the old.
The plaintiffs in a suit registered on the 6th of April 2022 with suit No TC/25/2022 were seeking an Order directing the partitioning of the said property at the aforementioned address which they claimed was in accordance with Onitsha native law and custom and constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
They were also seeking among others things,a declaration that Onitsha customary law of intestate succession which disinherits females in the sharing of their father’s landed property is unconstitutional,null and void.
The plaintiffs also want their brother to render account of monies he collected from the rent paying tenants on same address since the death of their father Akunwafor Dom Nwoche to date.
In his 40 paragraph defence,the defendant Ezennia Louis Nwoche,submitted among other claims that the plaintiffs we’re all aware of the partitioning of their father’s properties between the two sons and we’re duly advised adding that the issue of depriving them their rights did not arise since the law or right they quoted did not exist at the time of partitioning in 1991.
He pointed out that at the time in question and whereas the constitution was silent on the issue and before any precedent,the plaintiffs we’re married and that upon the death of their parents,all their father’s landed property reverted to two of their sons while the females shared all their mother’s belongings which included Gold,diamonds and other expensive trinkets valued at millions of Naira.
The defendant described the plaintiffs as diabolic people such that the 1st defendant Mrs Nnenne Obi (nee Nwoche)has been residing with a native doctor in Enugu from where she has been threatening him with fetish incantations.
As at time of this report,Trinitas got wind from the Ime-Obi Onitsha that the Obi in Council has referred the matter to the village authorities to mediate on failing which the Ime-Obi will continue with the matter.
Meanwhile,the matter has sent ripples across the traditional community of Onitsha Ado kingdom as it is becoming common place for females married or not to contest inheritance from their families.
Traditionalists are pointing out that it makes nonsense of the age-long tradition and culture of the people since culture and tradition does not permit sharing of property between makes and females who may have been married off.
Benjamin Nwachukwu observed that the new rave as pronounced by the Supreme Court will only destroy the entire Igbo trado-cultural system if marriage and set siblings against themselves.
According to him, whereas a lady has been married off,she returns to her father’s property to contest with the makes who are the custodian of their family property and successors to the family lineage.
According to him,”it all boils down that even children of the females will come to fight for their mother and claim their paternal grandfather’s property.
Nwachukwu called on the Nigerian Supreme Court to revise its ruling on the matter because according to him,it has rubbished the entire Igbo custom and tradition of property inheritance with ripple effects on the general custom and tradition of Igbo land.
In his contribution,Ms Catherine Okoye pointed out that though men are regarded as heads of their families,women should enjoy the freedom inheritance as all people are created equal and are children of God.
She however agreed that it was a kind of encouragement to women to leave their marriages and return to their father’s house to cause trouble.
By Philip Balepo